Television can be informative, emotional, and even divisive but once in a while it is simply fun. This can translate from culture to culture. Based on the success of Britain’s “Googlebox, Bravo created “The People’s Couch” for US viewers. While the American version had no aspirations to be as gritty as the UK program, Bravo knew very well that it would appeal to and grow via Social Media word of mouth. Show Runner Aliyah Silverstein enlisted the talent and expertise of Caroline Abaecheta to assume the duties of Co-Executive Producer and Supervising Producer. Abaecheta’s acclaim in the industry for her work on both the UK and US versions of “X-Factor”, “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”, “Britain’s Got Talent”, and others have made her a first call for programming dealing with the public’s ongoing association/immersion in a show. It’s a necessary attribute of the modern day producer to comprehend and anticipate the way viewer’s will watch, react, and converse online about what they see. Caroline considers “The People’s Couch” (TPC) as Twitter on television. Most people watch television with one eye on the TV and the other on social media. TPC is a viewing party with everyone’s funniest friends. A benevolent by-product of TPC is that it often introduced the viewers to less well-known shows, essentially diversifying the viewing trends of the audience.
TPC was not in pursuit of sensationalism or choreographed drama as with many reality television productions. We’ve all watched TV with friends and family and taken part in the conversations that this elicits. TPC captured this using actual groups of friends and family members. With a benevolent demeanor, TPC was never mocking or cruel in regards to the programming the cast members were watching as this was not the goal. The production used the natural humor and interest of the participants to convey the public’s relationship with their current favorite programs. One might describe it as comfort programming for those unable to always take part in these viewing groups. The natural identification with certain members of the cast created a connection with the audience.
One very unique aspect of the show is that due to the nature of the show, there was no need for creating tension and release. Because TPC was personality driven rather than plot driven there was no need for a formal script. While many “reality” shows actually work off of a script, TPC merely presented the situations and the conversation ideas and then assembled the story for each episode from what was witnessed. What viewers saw was the cast speaking in their own voice. This facet also meant that the vast majority of the production’s work was done in casting and in post via editing, etc. To ensure the episodes were relevant, each episode was created, filmed, edited, and aired within a single week. This is an incredibly quick pace for a production, the success of which Development Executive Producer Aliyah Silverstein credits to Caroline. Silverstein remarks, “Caroline developed the show’s unique style. She also ran the large edit team as well as co-created the unique process that shot, edited, and aired the hour-long show in less than a week. This is almost unheard of in the US TV industry. ‘The People’s Couch’ was hugely successful and was definitely part of the zeitgeist as proven by the fact that the look we created has been copied in a Canadian version. Not surprisingly, Caroline is in very high demand because of her unique production skills. Caroline was absolutely indispensable in the creation of ‘The People’s Couch.’ It’s not possible to overstate what an incredible job she did and that the success of ‘The People’s Couch’ would not have been achievable without her.
There is an undeniable human core to the show but transmitting this to different regions and cultures is the challenge. Transitioning the idea of the show from Britain to the US required a keen understanding of the sensibilities of two similar yet very different mindsets. Already vetted by her track record with X Factor both in the UK and US (in which Abaecheta served as producer, senior producer, and supervising producer) Caroline was an ideal choice for identifying the delineation of what would and would not work for an American audience. Most prominently, UK audiences enjoy a somewhat more realistic and “gritty” appearance while US audiences have grown accustomed to a glossier and polished aesthetic. The combination of content and visuals made Bravo and ideal home for TPC.
The saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and this show which was so adeptly produced by Abaecheta has been receiving compliments from across the globe. Mike Cotton (EP Studio Lambert) professes, “The People’s Couch is now an international phenomenon with new series being produced across the world in China, Ukraine, Denmark, France, Spain, Canada, and Germany. As an Executive Producer at the top of her field, Caroline has contributed to some of the most popular, dynamic, and high quality shows over the span of her career and she continues to influence the industry with productions like The People’s Couch. Caroline is someone who not only recognizes innovation but is a key part of it. She is forward thinking and when this is combined with her talent…she is instantly recognizable as someone who is making an impact in the entertainment production universe.”